From Jesus Christ to Salman Rushdie, from Moses to Freud, blasphemy has been a force in producing many forms of Western cultural identity. Blasphemy continues to influence our relations with other cultures, yet it is not so much an idea as a shifting rhetorical figure. It stands for whatever we deplore: we define the truths we uphold in terms of the blasphemies we attack.
"Blasphemy is an orthodoxy's way of demonizing difference," writes Lawton. In this provocative book, the author tracks the history of blasphemy from the trial of Christ through the fatwa imposed on Salman Rushdie. He concludes that blasphemy is far from an antique concept, but a living, dangerous rhetoric that still defines the boundaries of popular culture.